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Guest Blog – Staying Sharp with E.S. Wynn

6 February 2015 One Comment

E.S. Wynn and I are both in the soon-to-be-released anthology, Fossil Lake ll – The Refossiling. I’m quite excited to have such a great (and prolific!) writer stop by to join the clattering with a bit of advice and some fresh new prompts.

Welcome, E.S.!

Staying Sharp
© 2015 E.S. Wynn, all rights reserved

modernslIn writing, as with any art, skill is honed through practice. To become better, a writer must turn the hobby of writing into a habit, one that is practiced every day, even if only for short periods. Regular exercise of the “writing muscle” is critical to improving your skill in prose and poetry, but even if you do make time to write each day, you’re likely to run into the same problem that stalls so many pens and key-tapping fingers: Writer’s block.

Many people struggle with writer’s block. One of the most common questions I’ve been asked by my students is if a person can ever overcome writer’s block quickly and easily. To many, writer’s block can seem like an insurmountable obstacle, and admittedly, it can be quite intimidating at times. The best way to work past it, however, is to keep moving, to keep writing anything you can, even if you’re only honing your work with shorter, more playful pieces.

That, dear reader, is where writing prompts come in. In my experience, there is no better tool for overcoming writer’s block (and making the most out of the time you’ve set aside for writing) than having access to a big batch of writing prompts. Even the worst cases of writer’s block I have seen and experienced personally have been dissolved by flipping through a list of writing prompts. Sometimes it’s the ideas that come when we’re just skimming them, and sometimes it’s the prompts themselves that bring the magic to our minds and hands. Either way, these “idea seeds” are often all a writer needs to get the creative juices flowing in short order, and that, I think, makes them invaluable.

Realizing this, I’ve created a workbook which contains over 700 individual writing prompts paired up with enough space for you to be able to write your own shorter pieces right there in the pages of the book. These prompts range from the abstract to the detailed and cover a wide range of subjects. To get you started, I’ve included a selection of ten writing prompts from the book below. Enjoy!

1.) Write a story where love is created and maintained over a distance. The length and nature of that distance is up to you. It could be the distance between two continents, two cities, or even just between two windows or the rooftops of two neighboring buildings. What lies between, physically and metaphorically? What are the barriers that must be overcome? Are they overcome? How?

2.) Think about a symbol. It can be a peace sign, a star, a cross, a flag, or anything else you’ve seen in the past. Consider what it means to you, really deeply think about it, then put those thoughts into words. Next, write a story using those words.

3.) Write a story that describes its imagery using terms specific to some other form of art (i.e. describe it as you would describe a painting.) Point out and talk about brush strokes, the way colors blend into one another, etc. Describe people in terms of instruments, tools, methods, strokes or even musical notes– make the effect pervasive, all encompassing and constant.

4.) Grab any shred of self-doubt or self-judgement and huck it out the window right now. Lock it outside and forget it. This is your moment. Write freely.

5.) Create a story where all of the characters feature objectified names. Consider the relationship that could spring up between Left and Right, between Red and Tall, between Green and Cube. Consider how these relationships could interrelate: Is Green stalking Tall? Is Cube cheating on Right with Red? Remember to keep things abstract. Put pen to paper and see where a few objectified names can take you!

6.) Resisting any impulses you may have of seeing it as disturbing or morbid, visit a graveyard and check out the grave markers and headstones until you find one that catches you. Write a story about that person’s life, what it might have been like, the kind of things they might have had to deal with, the people, places and things they loved or held dear.

7.) Write a story about a character who finds a book in an unusual place. What book is it? Why is it there? Is your story about what’s inside the book itself, what it means to the person who left it there and the meeting of these two different people, or something else altogether? There are about a thousand ways you can go with this, and they all start with one person finding a strange book in a strange place.

8.) Write a story where, steadily, by degrees, you become someone else.

9.) Prepare to write a story, pick something you want to write about, then turn the whole thing inside out. Create something totally opposite to what you had planned.

10.) Write a short story backwards. Start at the end, end at the beginning.

Like these prompts? You can pick up a copy of the workbook here: http://www.thunderune.com/2011/03/modern-creative-writers-workbook.html or the more condensed manual (which contains all of the same prompts in a smaller, more compact pocket-sized book) here: http://www.thunderune.com/2011/03/manual-for-modern-creative-writers.html

E.S. Wynn is the author of over fifty books in print. During the last decade, he has worked with hundreds of authors and edited thousands of manuscripts for nearly a dozen different magazines. His stories and articles have been published in dozens of journals, zines and anthologies. He has taught classes in literature, marketing, math, spirituality and guided meditation. Outside of writing, he has worked as a voice-over artist for several different horror and sci-fi podcasts, albums and ebooks.

Visit his website at http://www.eswynn.com.